According to Vanessa Van Edwards, Author of Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People, there are over 800 non-verbal signals made during a 30-minute first date. Once you learn how to read your partner’s body language, you’ll be better equipped to decipher their needs and fill their love tank.

The problem is, we’re not taught to be aware of the signals we’re subconsciously giving off or how to read and interpret others’ cues. It’s just one of those social skills we’re expected to pick up and adapt to which is difficult or even impossible for some.

Joe Navarro has written several books on body language and non-verbal communication. In his book, What Every Body is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People, Navarro discusses how non-verbal communication is guided by the limbic system, a very primitive part of our brains. 

The limbic system assesses danger and risk, preparing the body for fight, flight, freeze, or fawn reactions. It is also the portion of the brain responsible for the high we feel when we fall in love. 

Reading Body Language

Being even marginally aware of body language, can lead to better connections and conversations. Some suggest as much as 80% of human communication is non-verbal.

Although it may be difficult to decode, there is good news. Body language is a more honest form of communication than verbal because so much of it is subconscious. Even the best poker faces can’t control micro-expressions

She’s leaning in; that’s good. But is she trying to get closer to you or the wine?

It’s true that crossed arms and fidgeting can be a sign someone is disinterested, angry, or closed off. But it’s important to take the entire situation into account.

Is this your first date? It could just be a sign of anxiety. Did you cross your arms first? Perhaps they’re mirroring you; in this case it could indicate increased interest. 

Positive non-verbal communication can include blushing, fumbling over their words, playing with their hair, fiddling with their clothes, or touching their lips. Getting tongue-tied often means one is nervous and trying to make a good impression.

Did you know hair follicles release pheromones?

Pay attention to whether they open their body toward you or away. Take a quick glance at their feet, where are they pointing?

Subtle touches are great signs. If they slap your knee when you tell a joke, or touch your arm for emphasis, you can bet they’re flirting.

It’s Like Mocking, Only Cute

Mirroring is subconscious mimicking. You know the saying, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? It’s true. If someone likes you, they will start to adopt your mannerisms and movements.

It’s common for couples to start to share each other’s preferences over time. Some even start to resemble one another! 

We like people who are like us. Love and belonging are a vital part of our hierarchy of needs. It’s why cults exist and civilizations survive.

Now that you know this, you can alter your own behavior to mirror your date and build a stronger connection.

Don’t be creepy about it and follow their every move, but subtle things like mirroring the way they lean on an elbow or cross their legs. 

Work Your Angles

First and foremost, I want you to relax and sit comfortably on your date. Take a few deep breaths, because the most important thing is that you feel confident and secure.

Now, let’s think about how to make small adjustments to your posture so that you’re comfortable, but still giving off positive energy.

Tilt your head slightly when your partner speaks to show you’re listening intently. Try to maintain an open position and close some of the space between the two of you.

Angle your body toward your date—head, shoulders, knees, and toes—pointed in his or her direction. Notice their body language, are they angled toward you or pointing directly at the door?

Touch Yourself

Not like that. Don’t make it weird.

Fellas—did you know your beards produce significantly more pheromones than your heads? Increased testosterone causes facial hair growth, so twirl your mustache or stroke your beard, and watch the ladies come running.

On second thought, don’t touch your face during a Pandemic. But when it’s over, you should know how to use your hands to flirt. 

Touching your throat or neck indicates you’re not a threat. You can also mess with your hair, fiddle with your watch, adjust your glasses, etc.

Eyes are the Window to the Soul

Speaking of glasses, try to avoid sunglasses.

Eye contact releases the bonding hormone, oxytocin. Studies show your eyes dilate when you look at someone you care about. Both of these are hidden behind shades.

I do want to issue a word of caution. There are a number of conditions and diagnoses which make eye contact difficult or impossible for people to maintain.

Even if they’re not staring longingly into your eyes, you can still take note of where their line of sight is focused. Has something just caught their attention briefly or are you receiving rejection signals?

Is she staring at your lips then coyly averting her gaze? It might be time to think about leaning in for the first kiss.